I can’t be in the Revive-A-Vintage Challenge because I’m one of the judges. I’ve griped about that before. Not because it seems unfair but because I’d love to get my hands on that double pointed needle set from Knitter’s Pride. Sadly I have had to accept that someone else will be getting my needle set.
But I can still challenge myself and play along. I’ve decided to try and spin a vintage yarn. You see I’ve had this bag of flax for quite a while and I think its time to see how badly I can mess it up.
You’ve probably seen flax in the fancy section of the grocery store. Well, flax seeds anyway. Its one of those high omega-3 fatty acid foods that we should all be eating. Or you may know it from gardening. Flax puts out sweet pale blue flowers and it grows wild all over the world.
Or maybe you’ve heard of linseed, as in linseed oil. Linseed is another name for flax. And I know you’ve all heard of linen. Linen is woven fabric made from flax, from the bast fibers in flax. People have been spinning flax and making linen since (at least) 7000 BC.
Linen fragments have been found in the tombs of the ancient Egyptians. Those Iron Age Britons wore woven wool and linen. The linen making tradition of Ireland is epic. In the 17th and 18th century fortunes were made from exporting Irish linens.
Yes, flax has a long history in the world of fiber. It has a pretty long history in my fiber stash too. You see, I bought that bag of flax to spin before I bought my first spinning wheel. I think I’ve moved (and moved that particular bag) four times since I bought it. I love the idea of spinning it because flax has such a long and romantic history but… I’m a little intimidated.
She is not intimated you notice. Anti-Spinning Feline Overlord knows she can muck up any fiber anywhere any time. She is awesome that way.
Flax has to be spun wet. Or damp. Or something like that. According to The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning, flax needs to be “at least 30% moisture” to spin. Back in the day, spinners had little bowls that they filled with water and drew the flax through.
Pretty neat huh? Countless people have told me they would make me a bowl that like one but that just never seems to happen.
Its been suggested to me, more than once I might add, that I could just spit on the fiber as I worked it. I really can’t see myself doing that. Can you? Just imagine …there is Jenn out on her porch, on a bright sunny day, with her coffee and her fiber and her wheel and the Anti-Spinning Feline Overlord trying to leap into her lap and mess her all up. Then, every 15 seconds or so, she spits a blob of drool on her fingers.
I don’t think so Scooter.
That’s why there has been no spinning of the flax. I had all these excuses. Plus I had a large and ever growing stash of all kinds of other fibers to play with. So the flax sat all neglected and sad in its little bag in the fiber stash drawer.
But… I have come up with an idea, a plan, for keeping it damp as I spin. No, there will be no spitting required. And I have this blog now. I make the commitment here and then I actually have to spin the stuff. Well, I have to try anyway. There is no backing down. That flax will either become yarn or a big hot mess but it will not be going back in the bag.
That’s my personal vintage challenge. I’ll keep you updated! How is yours going? Next drawing prize goes out this Friday! We’ve already had two winners. If you have a project started in ravelry with this tag : revive-a-vintage then you’re in the contest and maybe could win the next one.
If you’re interested in joining in there is plenty of time. Here are a few posts that will help:
Revive-A-Vintage Challenge Page – rules, and prizes, and schedule, and other stuff
Places to look for a pattern – online repsoitoriies of free vintage patterns